The 16 Best Summer Dresses for Petites, Starting at $44

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Petites under 5’4” know how hard it is to find bottoms—jeans, capris, you name it—that fit like they weren’t created for a 10-foot-tall model. Finding a dress suited to your frame can be just as grueling if you don’t know where to look or what to look for. Whether you’re shopping for a summer wedding guest dress, lightweight linen or low-maintenance frocks, there are a handful of styling tips all short women should live by if you want to avoid the tailor. (Because too often has a maxi dress pooled at your feet—and let’s not forget about that time the mini dress you ordered turned out to fit like a wannabe midi on you, awkwardly cutting your legs in half.) With the helpful advice and recommendations from petite PureWow editors, I found 16 of the best summer dresses for petites from stores like Abercrombie & Fitch, Zara, Anthropologie and more.

Plus, fashion stylist Cindy Conroy answers some of the most asked petite-girl questions and shares styling tips along the way. So, here’s to not looking like a stump this summer.

Meet the Expert

Cindy Conroy is a New York- and Toronto-based fashion expert and TV host who has worked with celebs like Christina Milian. Her work has appeared in New York Magazine and WWD as well as PureWow.

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1. Abercrombie & Fitch Textured Shirt Dress

Abercrombie & Fitch

Picture this: You’re on a sandy beach with a piña colada in hand and a clear calendar for the week. The only thing you’re missing to complete your vacation in style is this breezy shirt dress from Abercrombie & Fitch. Made from 99 percent cotton and 1 percent elastane, you can expect this relaxed mini to be lightweight and have a small amount of give. PureWow’s Assistant Commerce Editor, Natalie LaBarbera, says, “I'm eyeing this airy button-down that I think will be perfect for my short legs with the mini length, and the textured cotton fabric should be super breathable for summer.”

$70 at Abercrombie & Fitch

2. ME+EM Cheesecloth Modern Daisy Print Midi Dress


“I just splurged on this dress from Me+Em and am obsessed with it,” gushes Rachel Bowie, senior director of special projects and royals at PureWow. “This brand is a holy grail for petites—the fit is actually designed for them (there's extra fabric at the hems to lengthen if, conversely, you're on the taller side). With this particular dress, I love the cheesecloth fabric, which is airy and light, but also soft and forgiving. Perfect for summer!” Dress it up with a pair of heels or slip on some sandals for a more laid-back look. Either way, this versatile dress will look just gorgeous.

$325 at ME+EM

3. Ann Taylor Crisscross Halter Maxi Dress

Ann Taylor

Here’s another chameleon dress that’ll look just as good on vacation as it does during an anniversary dinner in the city. Simple-yet-special, this satin fabric will flow dramatically off the body rather than cling to your frame, so if you’re the type that doesn’t want to wear something form-fitting, this dress is calling your name. The maxi dress, which comes in a petite length, won’t completely drown your silhouette either, thanks to the string ties at the waist, and the crisscross halter will do wonders for your collarbone and shoulders.

$179; $125 at Ann Taylor

4. Anthropologie The Somerset Maxi Dress


PureWow readers adore this summery dress from Anthropologie, and I totally get it. It’s a lightweight, breezy cotton maxi dress that’s so easy to throw on. Plus, the floral print really takes it up a notch or two, so imagine my surprise when I discovered that the dress comes in eight additional prints—that’s one for every day of the week and then some. Other features I love that won’t drown out the petite frame? The smocked waist and tiered A-line silhouette. The flouncy short sleeves are great, too, especially if you want ventilation for your armpits.

$168 at Anthropologie

5. WAYF Lace Trim Slip Dress


Not all summer dresses for petites need to be flowy and voluminous. In fact, a slip dress like this sexy number from WAYF will look oh-so elegant. Here’s why it works: The floral lace trim breaks up the silk-like slip, creating definition at the waist and thus making your body, particularly your legs, look longer. It’s a sultry dress I can totally envision Carrie Bradshaw wearing on a date with the late Big, especially with that rosette appliqué.

$118 at Shopbop

6. The Shirt The Layla Dress


If you haven’t already noticed while shopping on retailers’ websites or in stores, from Zara to Nordstrom, it’s the time for a bubble hem to shine, which is why I had to include this T-shirt micro mini in the mix. It’s made with a short hem that’ll work best on people with a petite frame, and is designed with a relaxed, boxy fit and billowy sleeves for a modern-meets-classic effect.

$208 at Modatrova

7. Hyacinth House Abstract Orla Dress


Summertime is the ideal season to embrace sweeping one-shoulder designs and punchy prints like the vibrant floral motif on this Hyacinth House dress. It’s whimsical and flirty, partly because of the pattern, though mainly for its ruffled hem that’s just waiting for a twirl. “I can't wait to wear this to a bridal shower this summer,” says Tuckernuck customer Mary K., who was taken by the abstract print. “I love that the bow is self-tie, and the stitching details give it a little something extra.” She and another buyer find that it runs true to size.

$168 at Tuckernuck

8. Reformation Jeany Silk Dress


Butter yellow is set to become the “It” shade of summer, and Reformation sure knows how to do it right. How gorgeous is this silk, fitted gown from the eco-friendly brand? It features a classy high neckline with adjustable straps and cascades into a striking open-back moment…but—don’t fret—there are dainty straps you can tie along the back for a secure hold and no unintentional side boob mishaps. Not to mention, back buttons that’ll make any detail-obsessed person swoon. The dress is available in limited petite sizing, but don’t forget that Reformation offers alterations so you’ll have your How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days moment in no time.

$348 at Reformation

9. Majorelle Lucy Mini Dress


When my 5’2” sister celebrated her wedding welcome party in Nashville, she chose to don a flowy mini dress just like this one with some cowboy boots that were incredibly on-brand given the location, and it was pure magic. This mini features a cute empire waist fit, flouncy skirt and tie shoulder straps, which will be a lifesaver when you want to adjust how low or high the dress sits on your chest. The linen blend may wrinkle easily, as some reviewers note, but there’s nothing quite like this breathable blend on a scorching hot day to keep you cool.

$148 at Revolve

10. Faithfull the Brand San Paolo Midi Dress

Faithfull the Brand

A slim sheath is a great option if you want to feel comfortable without being engulfed by fabric. Australian label Faithfull the Brand’s San Paolo midi dress boasts a scoop neckline with a darling keyhole cutout that feels sexy while maintaining its girl-next-door charm. The gathered bust will add some definition to your figure while the empire waist will be totally comfortable and non-restrictive. The brand is grounded in the summer aesthetic, and I predict they chose a crepe fabric made from rayon because of its gorgeous drape and thin, breathable feel. Best of all? The fabric doesn’t retain heat well. In other words, you’ll want to wear this sundress all the time if you run hot.

$199 at Faithfull the Brand

11. Zara ZW Collection Belted Wrinkled Dress


Run, don’t walk, to snag this crinkled wrap dress from Zara while it’s still in stock. It’s classy, flattering and has pockets, so what’s not to love, really? Between the belted (and adjustable!) waist, the V-neck and ankle-grazing length, petites are in for a treat once they slip this chic dress on the next time they leave the house. According to Zara’s description, this style may run large, so we suggest sizing down if you’re in between.

$90 at Zara

12. Floerns Ruffle Boho Maxi Dress


“I love this dress! It's light and airy, while still providing plenty of coverage,” says Amazon buyer Stephanie M. “I am 5-foot-2, so a maxi dress is always a [toss-up] for me on how it will fit, especially when there is no petite option, but this hits me just right! I wore it with wedges and flats.” Complete with an A-line silhouette, the dress has a smocked bodice and square-neck top that’ll look especially great on bigger busts. “The straps are adorable, but I'll admit, a pain! I had to get my husband's help to tie and then still spent a few minutes adjusting,” the reviewer adds.

$44 at Amazon

13. Lucy Paris Danielle Smocked Dress


Here’s another smocked sundress that’s oh-so easy to wear with your choice of footwear, from heels to comfortable sneakers to loafers. It’s designed with a straight neck and spaghetti straps that you can tuck into the sides if you want to make it into a strapless dress. While the machine-washable cotton won’t have any stretch on its own, the smocked bodice makes it feel otherwise. You may need to have the hem shortened for a true midi length, as one 5’1” customer discovered, otherwise it may run more like a maxi on you.

$118 at Bloomindale’s

14. Sézane Erina Dress


Here’s *the* T-shirt dress to end all T-shirt dresses. It’s a simple, fitted silhouette that’s crafted to hug your figure and has a sleek, racerback cut similar to the average tank top. I’m especially loving the navy and white striped pattern as it feels extra Parisian, though it does come in a brown colorway, too, if you’re more of a neutral gal.

$150 at Sézane

15. Reformation Balia Linen Dress


Have a Tomato Girl Summer in this linen frock from Reformation, which features a full skirt, fitted bodice and smocked back for a comfortable fit that won’t feel suffocating even after dessert. It has a slight dropped waist; however, the seams flare up in the shape of a V so it’ll make your figure appear longer than it is rather than cutting off your legs like a traditional drop waist silhouette can. Best of all? It comes in petite sizing, plus more colors and some prints, too.

$278 at Reformation

16. Pomander Place Finley Flutter Sleeve Dress


Boxy dresses may not be the most popular choice for petites, but this Pomander Place beauty proves it can work when constructed well. “This dress is terrific,” raves Manisha P., a Tuckernuck customer. “The cut is great, and I think it would look great on lots of different body shapes and sizes, [and the] pockets are great, too. I'm quite petite and was pleased to see that it was not overwhelming, though I do wish it came in an XXS.” As she notes, the boxy fit won’t swallow you whole, largely because the oversized flutter sleeves, V-neck and pleats add shape and structure.

$128 at Tuckernuck

What Should You Consider When Shopping for Petite Summer Dresses?

“Ready, set, get your shopping shoes ready because there are summer dresses that petite women can wear,” assures Conroy. The key is to know your proportions and keep that in mind when perusing the aisles or websites for a summery frock. Below are a few tips and tricks Conroy swears by for all petites.

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